effect of airport x-ray on Tri-X 400

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Hi. I was wondering if anyone knew whether or not the x-ray machines for hand-carried baggage would have an effect on unprocessed Tri-X 400 film. I made the mistake of running a friend's case through the machine yesterday and wanted to know if all is definitely lost. Thanks for your help. Emily

-- Emily Tsai (emilyt@bellsouth.net), March 07, 2000


I think it's been shown that standard x-ray baggage scanners will not harm film, especially just one time through. Recently a new highpowered anti-terrorist scanner has been placed in airports around the world. It pre-scans with a low powered sweep and if it detects anything suspicious it hits with a high powered scan which will definitely fog film, whether it's in a film shield bag or not.

Chances are the machine you checked your film through was not one of these. But the moral of the story, whenever possible have your film or camera bag, hand inspected.

-- Paul Swenson (paulphoto@humboldt1.com), March 07, 2000.

Process one of the rolls and you can check for fogging. Obviously you should see nothing but clear film base.

-- Paul Swenson (paulphoto@humboldt1.com), March 07, 2000.

I'd like to add to hand-inspection...the fastest way to have your film hand inspected at airport security is to remove the film from the boxes and canisters, and place it in a zip-lock type clear plastic bag. Also put it in the most convenient place possible in your carry on's so all you have to do is pull it out, tell the security people you'd like it hand inspected, then go through.

I recently did this on a trip to Chicago from NJ, and the hand inspection of my film didn't slow down my going through security at all.

Cheers, Mason


-- Mason Resnick (bwworld@mindspring.com), March 07, 2000.

The high powered scanners that cause trouble even in fairly slow films are used for CHECKED baggage. NOT carry on.

Most carry on machines are labeled with the maximum safe film speed. Typically either ISO 400 or ISO 1600.

Realize that in the US and Canada you can insist on hand inspection, but outside those countries, they may not allow hand inspection. Having the film in a claer plastic bag, and asking nicely with a smile can help, but they DON'T have to do it.

I use a lead bag. Sometimes after running my carry on through the scanner they will hand inspect the contents of the bag, sometimes not. For very high speed film (over ISO 800) I have a couple if film containers that use some barium compound to provide extra protection. These almost always end up causing an additional check of my bag.

I have traveled a lot with 400 film in a lead bag with NO problems, even with multiple checks. I have traveled a good bit with ISO 400 film in cameras and loose (not in lead bag) without any problems either. So the lead bag is probably not needed, but it makes me feel better.

NEVER put ANY uprocessed film in your checked baggage.

-- Terry Carraway (TCarraway@compuserve.com), March 08, 2000.

Another question: What about traveling with infrared and has anyone had any trouble with 2 1/4 film being hand inspected.



-- Mark R (markr789@erols.com), March 09, 2000.

I've never had any problems getting 120 film hand inspected here in the US. Overseas, it can be next to impossible to get *anything* hand inspected. This week I conducted an experiment with an eye towards future international travel using a 120 camera. On a domestic business trip, I removed the metallized foil wrappers from five 120 rolls, including E-6 and black and white, and placed them in my pockets. To reduce chances of anything else setting off the metal detectors, all keys, coins, pens, and my watch and metal belt buckle were put in the carryon case for x-ray. Result: at least with the sensitivity settings on two detectors I walked through in widely separated cities, no alarms rang. Whether these outcomes can be safely extrapolated to magnetometers in other countries remains to be seen, but I'll certainly give it a try at the next opportunity.

-- Sal Santamaura (bc_hill@qwestinternet.net), March 09, 2000.

I can only repeat the assurances of others here. I just processed a roll of Tri-X that went through 3 airport x-rays while in my camera, and it is just fine -- not a hint of fog. Just the same, I carry extra and completed rolls in a "Film Shield" lead bag on the principle that what can go wrong probably will, someday.

-- Sam Elkind (sselkind@home.com), March 12, 2000.

I'll repeat a question here that I have asked before in similar discussions: Has anyone out there actually experienced fogging, streaking or other damage to film that can be attributed to airport X- ray machines?? I've seen countless of these discussions, but never one post from someone who has had problems. Now, I'm sure that at some point X-ray machines will fog film given enough exposure, however, I regularly travel back and forth over the Atlantic with loaded 4x5 film holders, both in my hand luggage and checked bags. These are loaded with Tri-X and T Max 100. Some of these have made it through the scanners at Heathrow in London 3 or 4 times with no ill effects. So, I'm curious: Is there evidence, I mean real evidence, of film fogging or is it just another myth or advertising ploy by the lead bag manufaturers? ;^D)

-- Doremus Scudder (ScudderLandreht@compuserve.com), March 13, 2000.

To answer the last post..... yes. repeated exposure to some X-Ray at carry on will cause damage. The faster the speed of the film the easier it is to damage. At our lab we work with a number of journalist that travel extensively and have always recommend the method that Mason states above. Have your film hand checked when possable. A camera bag contains many items that may look odd to an inspector. Flash units, Meters, Power packs, etc. that would and does cause them to hold the bag within the X-ray machine for longer than average. We have seem every thing from streaking to general base fog that could only be attributed to repeated exposure to X-ray.

-- jim megargee (mvjim@interport.net), March 14, 2000.

I have never personally seen any effects from carry on scanners. But when I travel overseas, I do carry all my film (except what may be the camera) in a lead bag.

I have seen the results of testing with the CTX5000 series machines for checked baggage, and they can do damage to ISO 200 film in a single pass. That is why I don't check any film anywhere. There is no way of knowing where it might run into a CTX5000 series.

-- Terry Carraway (TCarraway@compuserve.com), March 14, 2000.

Checking film in a lead bag where the CTX 5000/5500 machines are used in an invitation to problems. First, if the machine can't see thru the bag, it alerts the operator who may use a high intensity x-ray for a better look. If that doesn't do in your film, and the operator still can't see into the bag, expect the bag to be inspected. Before the bag is searched, they get the passenger down to the baggage area. At the least, this is annoying. If they can't clear the bag, and can't find the passenger, the bag doesn't go on the plane, and they call the police, who take the bag and do whatever with it. They also go looking for the passenger. Can you spell "missed the flight"?? Don't check film in lead bags. Save money and time. Carry it on, in easily searched plastic bags.

-- Richard Newman (rnewman@snip.net), March 14, 2000.


It is worse than that. The CTX5000 series do much of that on their own. They scan the bag. If there is something suspicious or opaque, it raises the power on its own. And if needed, raises the power more.

Only after it determines that it can't figure the bag out does the operator get involved.


Yes, carry film on. But I use Film Shield bags with my carry on film. Sometimes is gets me hand checking where they otherwise wouldn't hand check.

-- Terry Carraway (TCarraway@compuserve.com), March 15, 2000.

>> Has anyone out there actually experienced fogging, streaking or other damage to film that can be attributed to airport X- ray machines??

Yes, I have.

-- Alan Gibson (Alan@snibgo.com), March 15, 2000.

Answering Alam Gibson:-

Yes, me too. 3 months work destroyed at Paris Charles De Gaul FWIW, I NEVER travel through London airports, or Paris, with any film at all. My film at Paris was x-rayed 3 or 4 times when I asked for hand inspection. An airport policeman then proceeded to unroll exposed 120 rolls and exposed 35mm rolls that had the leader left out with a cocky smile on his face. Complain? leave the country or be arrested. I was on transfer flight - easy decision. PS I had credentials.....

-- Gord Slater (sssnaps@aol.com), November 15, 2000.

If you have few enough rolls, put exposed 120 (without any metallic foil wrapping)in your pockets. They won't set off the magnetometers, and you'll breeze right through.

-- Sal Santamaura (bc_hill@qwestinternet.net), November 15, 2000.

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